Kia Scherr & Salesian Youth Peace Forum

DON BOSCO – MATUNGA, SEPTEMBER 30, 2012:

Transform Yourself. Transform your world. Choose Forgiveness, Peace, Love, Compassion”, were the ten magical words that touched the lives of over four hundred youth on September 30, 2012 at the Youth Peace Forum at Don Bosco Primary School, Matunga. This forum, part of a global peace initiative of One Life Alliance (OLA), began with the lighting of the lamp by Kia and other representatives of OLA. The Salesian Family was represented by Vice-Provincial Fr. Ajoy, Provincial Economer Fr. Elson, DBYS Director Fr. Glen, and other confreres and sisters who accompanied the youth.

The event began with songs of praise by the El Shaddai prayer group from Borivli, followed by a thematic dance on peace by the youth from Resurrection Church – Virar, and a dance to the music of Vande Mataram by Sharu Alphonso. Before the groups of children and youth presented themselves, a brief introduction on Kia Scherr was given by the comperes Clint and Michelle.

Mrs. Kia has been a meditation teacher for over thirty years. Starting with Transcendental Meditation, she rose to the position of national executive council member for Synchronicity Foundation, as the retreat coordinator and presenter. On 26/11/2008, Kia’s husband Alan and 13 year-old daughter Naomi, were shot and killed by terrorists in Mumbai, India.  Her response to this act of terror is forgiveness, love and compassion. To counter-balance terrorism with a message to honour the life we all share by living with love and compassion, she co-founded an international non-profit organization “One Life Alliance” with Charles Cannon, who survived the Mumbai attacks.

Kia Scherr moved the entire crowd with her story and her mission of working for peace and respect for the sacredness of life.  She believes in connecting with youth who have immense energy. She wants to help them understand the importance of forgiveness and building inner peace. Taking the example of Jesus, she chooses to forgive those who hurt her, and appreciate the sacredness of life. She emphasized that terrorism exists in many forms within us through the feelings of anger, egoism, selfishness which sometimes is displayed through acts of inhumanity. Her message to the youth was, “Our success as human beings depends on how we interact with each other. Forgiveness is a bridge to peace. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the present. Release the past and work towards peace.” Her talk touched the hearts of all present.

The Q & A session with Kia brought up beautiful insights on dialogue and peace. Some persons shared their experiences on how it was hard to forgive; they asked her for guidance on transforming the world and working towards peace. Kia made the gathering aware of how holding revenge, hate and resentment is akin to consuming poison while wanting to destroy the enemy. With her beautiful smile and trademark simplicity, she spoke about “unconditional love and forgiveness”. She asked the youth to use the power of the media, of social networking sites and modern technology to spread the message of peace.

A solemn moment arrived when the hall was darkened and 158 candles (in memory of the lives lost on 26/11) arranged in the form of a dove, were lit by the dignitaries, volunteers and children. The youngsters typed the 10 magical words on their mobiles and sent them to their friends who could not be present for the programme, to show their solidarity with Kia and her mission for forgiveness and peace. The youth then solemnly pronounced the 10 magical words, and made a commitment to respect life and work for peace, which begins by transforming oneself.

Guest of honour Fr. Elson presented Kia with a souvenir in honour of this peace forum and the solemn pledge taken by the youth present. Two huge cards endorsed with all the participants’ signatures were also presented to her.  Kia will never forget the photo she posed for together with all the 13 year-old girls and boys crowding around her. Fr. Elson encouraged the youth to stand for peace and thanked Kia for her efforts to make a difference.

Fr. Glen thanked everyone, especially the youth volunteers who made this event a success. He said that Kia was no more just a name, she has become a part of our families and we stand by her to carry on her mission for peace and transformation. Indeed the event channelled our energy for a good cause and helped us realize that there is so much to be done for the greater glory of God and for the welfare of humanity.

Peace be with you all !

– Marina D’Costa

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